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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

A militant spokeswoman for female liberation may write that "when the colony exceeds capitalism's need for menial workers, no longer functions efficiently as a reserve army of labor and develops a revolutionary consciousness which threatens the whole imperialist system, black women's right to bear children is violated through genocidal 'population control' programs"; but in the next sentence she demands to "control our own bodies," and have "completely free and equal access of all women to birth control and abortions" (79). Even contentious Jane Jacobs can accept birth control on certain terms. "It is a great force for the social and economic liberation of women," she writes, "and perhaps a major human right . . . but as a prescription for overcoming economic stagnation and poverty is nonsense. Worse, it is quackery" (87).
If there are lessons here for United States population policy, they first of all point to the need for treating nations differently depending on the way in which they regard family planning and policies to limit population growth. An important question which the United States, and more particularly international agencies, must face is whether to assist nations or subnational groups to increase their fertility levels if such nations or groups define this as in their interest. Just as the Planned Parenthood movement has always stressed its service to infertile couples as well as to those desiring birth control, should population agencies be prepared to assist Argentina and Bolivia to raise their effective fertility levels or better populate their empty lands?
Perhaps, too, it is time to give more thought to the role of population planning in distributive justice. Concern for this area is no longer the exclusive domain of discontented foreign nationals, but of growing groups of American citizens as well. As budgets for national birth control programs increase, citizens have a right to question whether they will do more than increase individual freedom and generate savings for the national economy. They may need to know more clearly how those savings will enrich their own lives.al need. (85)